(LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17, 2004) ? The average price of regular gasoline in Southern California surged nearly 20 cents in a month to an all-time February high with more increases likely on the way, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's monthly Fuel Gauge Report. An expanding economy combined with lower inventories and reduced production from California refineries in the middle of the routine changeover from winter to summer grade gasoline have propelled gasoline prices higher at a faster pace than in prior years.
The Southern California average price for regular self-serve unleaded gasoline is $1.939, up from $1.737on Jan. 13, 2004. The previous highest February Fuel Gauge Report price was in 2003 at $1.730.
The lowest average price in Southern California is Porterville, where drivers can pump regular self-serve unleaded gasoline for an average $1.836, and the highest price is in Redlands, where regular goes for an average $2.079. San Francisco Bay-area motorists now pay an average of $1.90, up from $1.71 in January. Nationally, prices are up eight cents since the January AAA survey and now average $1.64 per gallon.
"A springtime gasoline price spike is becoming an annual institution in California," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "Production drops as many refineries need to change over from winter to summer formulation gasoline. When inventories are already at low levels, this changeover can cause prices to jump up. In addition, OPEC recently announced a production cut, so some experts are saying that the price increases may last longer this year."
In Southern California, the averages for regular and premium grades of gasoline are listed below:
|County/City||1/13 Unl||2/17 Unl||1/13 Pre||2/17 Pre|
|Los Angeles County|
|San Bernardino County|
|San Diego County|
|San Luis Obispo County|
|San Luis Obispo||1.797||1.978||1.917||2.229|
|Santa Barbara County|
|So Calif. Avg.||1.737||1.939||1.913||2.120|
The Auto Club?s Fuel Gauge Report is based on data gathered from monitoring fuel transactions at 2,800 Southern California gas stations. Oil Price Information Service — the nation?s most comprehensive source of petroleum pricing information, provides the data.